Dependence on crystal meth can happen fairly quickly on both a physical and mental level. Meth dependence can signal addiction which can be hard to break. The symptoms of both physical and psychological dependence on meth are quite apparent. Learn what to look for and how to seek help for addiction to meth.


Dependence vs. Addiction

The main difference between dependence and addiction is the intent of use. Individuals with addiction use meth for psychological reasons. People dependent on meth use the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This fine line may not even exist for some people. Dependence is a state during which a person is dependent upon a drug for normal physiological functioning. When the drug is stopped, withdrawal symptoms kick in. Abstinence from meth may produce withdrawal symptoms which constitute evidence of dependence. Addiction refers to a behavior where user of meth becomes preoccupied to the point of obsession about obtaining more of the drug.


Symptoms of Dependence

Dependence can lead to clinically significant impairment or distress which is measured by three or more of the following criteria (happening any time in the same 12 month period):

  • Need for increased amounts of meth to achieve intoxication
  • Diminished effect with continued use of same amount of meth
  • Characteristic meth withdrawal syndrome
  • Meth is used to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • Physical dependence on meth which includes fatigue, fever, nausea, sweating and other symptoms
  • Psychological dependence on meth which can lead to psychological withdrawal symptoms (cravings, irritability, depression, anorexia, etc)


Meth Dependence Withdrawal

The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms from meth vary person to person. The characteristics of dependence withdrawal include dysphoric mood (sadness) plus two of the following:

  • Constipation
  • Drug craving
  • Extreme irritability
  • Fever
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tachycardiac

The duration and severity of typical withdrawal syndrome for meth remains unclear although some evidence exists to suggest the majority of symptoms will resolve within two weeks of meth cessation. Dependence on meth can vary depending on the frequency and method of use along with intensity of pleasure and personal genetic or psychological susceptibility. How long it takes to become dependent on meth depends on the frequency of use. When used several times per week, a person is likely to experience symptoms of dependence within a 4 to 6 week period. Dependence on meth will most likely require treatment with professional support to quit. It is a drug with highly addictive properties and is difficult to quit without help from medical professionals.


Meth dependence and addiction can have serious consequences for individuals with addiction as well as family, friends and loved ones. If you or someone you know is struggling to quit meth, help is available. It does not have to feel hopeless with the right support system. Call us to get started on the path to recovery.

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